Montgomery, Sy. 2006. Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forrest of New Guinea. Photographs by Nic Bishop. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. ISBN 9780618496419.
2. Plot Summary
Follow author Sy Montgomery, photographer Nic Bishop, and the rest of their team on the adventure of their lives as they scour New Guinea for the elusive tree kangaroo. A record of their journey, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo tells the adventurers’ back story as they prepare for their long stint in the Cloud Forest studying the elusive creatures other scientists said could not be studied. Through perseverance and ingenuity, the team is able to extensively study these cute marsupials for the first time.
3. Critical Analysis
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo is organized in a logical order, following the chronological order of events. Facts about the tree kangaroo are woven throughout the story, bringing together the story and the details in a way that doesn’t feel like learning but like listening to a story around the campfire. Featuring an index, users will be able to quickly return to key parts at a later date.
The photos presented in the book were taken on the same expedition which the book describes, giving an extra layer of authenticity to the tale. Additionally, the beautiful photos help the reader wrap his/her head around a strange creature and culture which would be difficult to understand in a text-only presentation.
Montgomery’s clear writing style helps the reader get straight to the point without digging through fluff. The author’s passion for the subject can be clearly seen when the story reveals that Montgomery was one of the adventurers in the story. Montgomery does a great job providing details about the culture of New Guinea and about the tree kangaroo without overwhelming the reader with scientific details, but also avoids talking down to the reader. Readers are encouraged to find out more about tree kangaroos and their own areas of interest.
Although the text contains no bibliography, the book may be given a pass on this topic since it is a record of personal experience. The author is a credible recorder of this information since she was a participant in the story.
4. Review Excerpts
2007 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award
2007 ALA Notable Books for Children Award
2006 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
2007 Robert F. Siber Informational Books Award (nominee)
2007 Maine Student Book Award (nominee)
2009 Beehive Children’s Informational Book Award (nominee)
2009 Young Hoosier Book Award (nominee)
From Booklist: “Montgomery gives an unusually strong, visceral sense of the work and cooperation fieldwork entails and the scope and uniqueness of this particular mission.”
From Horn Book Magazine: “Montgomery’s friendliness and curiosity set the tone: she enthusiastically engages with the people, plants, and animals she encounters on the trip.”
From School Library Journal: “The book’s fascinating glimpses into a little-explored region will hold the attention of anyone interested in unusual creatures and the efforts to study them.”
-Use in a science unit about animals; each student reads a book about a different “odd” animal and makes a poster about the animal.
-For older students, read the book together as a class; then have each student write a short story featuring a tree kangaroo.
(Created in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the TWU course LS5603.20 Literature for Children and Young Adults)